by Brad Nelson 9/8/17
I think Apple is soon coming out with the iPhone 8, or at least a revision of the 7. But given that my last cell phone was a cheap Boost flip-phone, consider this a cutting-edge review. I mean, other than reading your thoughts, what more could they pack into one of these phones in one revision?
I purchased the iPhone 6 Plus (which arrived yesterday so I’m fully qualified to talk about it) from Consumer Cellular. A couple people I know praised this service, in general. One friend noted that the only thing you need to watch out for is to make sure they put you on a good carrier. Apparently they put him on one that had more limited coverage than he needed. But he got it switched no problem and noted that the customer service was good, of the variety where everything was, “Yes, sir.” And they spoke English.
The website is easy to browse. There’s no contract. You just go month to month and can stop at any time. (Can cell phone zombies ever stop? That is a deep, existential question.) I got a fairly basic plan ($20 per month) that offered 1500 minutes of mindless chattering and added to that ($5 per month) a data plan of 2000 useless and annoying texts with 200 MB of porn (err….data).
So for $25.00 a month plus all the taxes (and I’ll let you know what that is when I get my first bill), you’ve got a phone. I suspect most of my use of it will be over wifi so it’s unlikely I’ll hit the 200MB data limit. And as much as I might sometimes write here at StubbornThings, I’d have to really rack my brain to find 2000 useless and trivial things a month to shout out to my friends. Still, never underestimate the power of time-wasting. I could find that I soon exceed that text limit.
They had the iPhone 6 Plus offered for $250, so I went with that. (I just went to the site and they are at the moment out of stock on that particular phone.) They have plenty of Android phones as well. But I already have an Android tablet and I wanted to try Apple’s iOS.
Many of the reviews I’ve read of the iPhone 6 Plus were negative in terms of the size. I mean, goodness, from reading the reviews you’d think the thing was the size of a surfboard. Actually, I wish it was a little bigger. They call this size a “phablet” — the melding of phone and tablet — but if you have eyes over 40 and actually want to use the phone for something useful, the bigger the better in terms of the screen.
It weighs in at about 6 ounces. But I’ve snapped a couple pictures with this and turned out well. This phone can likely take the place of my old phone, my Nikon D3300 for hiking, a pedometer, and a stopwatch, although I’m still fiddling with trying to find a good app. What I’ve noticed about the apps, in general, is that, although the iOS itself is fairly minimalistic, the apps are bloatware all the way. Or perhaps I should call them “suckware.” Many of these apps are built not to fulfill a succinct and efficient function but to suck you into social networks where, basically, you’re giving free advertising for the app in the guise of “social networking.” It’s really annoying.
I just want a stop/start/pause time app, with basic pedometer functions (time elapsed, steps taken, distance, elevation, etc). An app called “Runtastic” does most of this okay. I deleted about 10 other apps last night after given them a look and after discovering that they were suckware and/or bloatware, the basic functions hidden under layers and layers of garbage I didn’t need or want.
But I digress. This-here review is supposed to be about the phone. By all reports, battery life is pretty good with the iPhone 6 Plus. The screen is hi-res and very nice. Under a magnifying glass, you can barely see the pixels. The operating system (and I’m long experienced with Apple software and operating systems) is what I’d call “Hidden OS.” I think these iOS’s may have been specifically built not for function, per se, but for the obsessive-compulsives out there, and there must be plenty of them. The point of the interface seems to be to induce as many swipes as you can, if only to try to find out where things are.
And not that this isn’t an efficient way to present information on a small screen. It can be. But the general schtick of the phone is that most of what you need is hidden, every app works a little different, so you’re swiping left, right, top, down to figure out or find a feature. It’s a little bit like playing a maze game. Turn left. Turn right. Turn again. Where the hell am I now? And because it all sort of looks alike in the maze, you lose track of where you are, of what swipes reveal more info and which swipes don’t.
Still, with time, this will make more sense to me as habits form. Compared to Android, in general, I think the Apple interface is more refined although general navigating (such as between apps) makes much more sense in Android. The general paradigm of the iPhone is somewhat smudged.
But these are quibbles in a $250 product that acts as a phone, a GPS, a music player, a camera, and an AI assistant (Siri). Let’s test out Siri right now: “Hey, Siri. Take me to StubbornThings.org.” Well….it worked last night. It took me right to the page via the Safari browser. Now it hears it as “Stubbornthings.ord.” Ord? Even so, it does then offer a link to the site that you can click on.
Let’s try again: “Hey, Siri. Is Donald Trump making America great again?” Well, Siri equivocated and simply offered a link to donaldtrump.com. But I half expected a dancing clown with orange hair or something, given this phone is from a libtard company.
Why the new phone, you may ask? You’d think joining the 21st century was reason enough. The truth is that I accidentally put the old Boost flip-phone through the washing machine cycle. Actually, I fiddled with it some more last night and got it to boot up and thus was able to copy over a few of my phone numbers. But the thing had become so unreliable (turning itself off sometimes or rebooting for no good reason) that it needed to be replaced anyway.
I put a screen protector on the front and that seems to be working well. It’s not interfering with the touch screen. I’ve got a Moleskin folio-style case coming. I figured that was better than just sliding the bare phone into a pocket or backpack.
I’ll post further thoughts, experiments, annoyances, and praises in the comments section as I fiddle and time-waste with this very cool device.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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